Awhile back I was at the radio station KCSM vinyl record swap and came across an oddity. A Hank Mobley LP, Thinking Of Home (Blue Note LT 1045, stereo, 1970) in a hand made cover. Well, hand made is putting it nicely. The original cover must have been lost and someone took a Milt Jackson cover, turned it inside-out and hand wrote the LP title and song list on the ‘new’ outside cover. I had not heard of this LP, but what intrigued me was a note on the cover, “Perfect Blue Note with ears.” Continue reading
Charlie Parker. Dizzy Gillespie. Art Blakey. If you’re a fan of bebop jazz, you know those names. I’m way too young to have heard beboppers play live back in the late 40s and into the 50s, but several nights ago, I came awfully close at the Cafe Stritch in San Jose, California.
That’s exactly what drummer Akira Tana’s quintet did for me. Tana’s band freakin’ bbq’d the joint, practically burning it down to the ground. Reminded me of why I listen to jazz in the first place. Continue reading
Always cool to find a local venue to hear live jazz and in this case, it was the Kevan Smedt Quartet at Dio Deka restaurant in Los Gatos, California. Right off, this is a straight jazz band playing standards, led by guitarist Smedt. I love this kind of band. The weather was perfect but the band was playing in front of a loudly flowing water fountain, which is not where they are normally located (they’re inside the restaurant). Nonetheless, they were terrific.
I sat with jazz aficionado & friend Darryl Noda, who pointed out that Smedt, left handed, tends to play the top four strings of his Eastman f-hole archtop guitar. Continue reading
This is the Compared! I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Dexter Gordon’s GO! (Blue Note, BST 84112, stereo, 1962) is one of the greatest jazz records ever made. Every tune is terrific. I’d take it with me if I were marooned on a desert island. We’re gonna compare five (5!) versions of GO! Four LPs and one CD. You’ll hear excerpts from two tunes, Cheese Cake and Second Balcony Jump. So just who are the combatants today?
First up to bat is a Liberty Blue Note. Not much competition here. Continue reading
I like taking chances on LPs, that’s part of the fun. The title of this LP and the cover photo didn’t exactly thrill me, but I’d recently heard Eddie Harris play Exodus and loved it. Mighty Like A Rose (Vee Jay LP 3025, mono, 1961) was a very gratifying and easy listen. I’d swear Harris was playing an alto, but he’s on tenor. If I didn’t know who was playing, I’d guess Paul Desmond.
Wanna relax? Sip a glass of cab, take it easy? This is a great LP for that. Harris doesn’t overpower you. He seamlessly slides back and forth between the notes and makes you glad you’re alive to hear this record. No straining to keep up, no bombast. Even when guitarist Joe Diorio (never heard of him) or pianist Willie Pickens (same) come in, it’s the same. Rest easy, Eddie & company are here. Continue reading
Is there anything wrong with a lightness to the mood, a bouncy quality that seems to say beaches of SoCal, white wine with salmon and let’s have a good time while driving down the avenue flanked by palm trees? And so it is with Today’s Jazz, an LP by the Bob Brookmeyer and Zoot Sims Quartet (Jazztone J1239, a mono LP, 1956). Continue reading
I’m usually a little leery of jazz produced in the 80s. I suppose it’s because most of what I bought during that time period I rarely listen to now. But I took a chance on a Bud Shank/Bill Perkins LP (Contemporary C 14031, 1986) because I’ve been looking for vinyl by Richie Kamuca, and Perkins used to play with him. It didn’t hurt that the drummer was one my faves, the late Sherman Ferguson. Sherm used to play with Kenny Burrell a lot.
I liked the way side two opened better than side one, even though the song’s title, Blazing Paddles didn’t sound very enticing. Ferguson opens the tune with a few bars of well recorded drumming Continue reading